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Rumor Roundup: Oilers discussed Nail Yakupov trade with Blackhawks

Nail Yakupov could use a change of scenery but a deal with Chicago isn't imminent, reports suggest.

Earlier this week, the Edmonton Sun's Jim Matheson suggested Oilers right winger Nail Yakupov could start the season in the press box, but might be playing elsewhere when it ends. In fact, the 23-year-old's departure could come sooner than that.

On Thursday, a rumor out of Chicago claimed the Blackhawks and Oilers discussed a possible deal involving the 2012 first-overall draft pick. TSN's Bob McKenzie confirms the two sides have talked but said a trade wasn't imminent.

Yakupov's $2.5-million salary is apparently a stumbling block. Given the Blackhawks limited cap space, the Oilers would have to pick up a portion of it.

Matheson compared Yakupov's status to that of former Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz last year, suggesting the young winger needs a change of scenery. But according to TSN's Darren Dreger, the trade market for Yakupov is weak.

Dreger said Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli attempted to move him at the trade deadline and at the NHL draft in June. Dreger claims at one point the Oilers sought a third-round pick, but that asking price might not even be that much anymore.

Matheson's colleague David Staples cites Sportsnet's Mark Spector claiming the Blackhawks, in addition to requesting the Oilers pick up some of Yakupov's salary, would send an AHL player or players to Edmonton. Staples also notes Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Lazerus considers Yakupov an odd fit for the Hawks, suggesting this indicates how dire things are on their forward lines.

Despite Yakupov's struggles with the Oilers, Staples feels he could be an affordable gamble for clubs seeking a motivated player with a year left on his contract who could become a second-line forward.

DEAL FOR RUSSELL SEEMS IMMINENT

With the start of the 2016-17 campaign fast approaching, unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell remains unsigned. Considered among this summer's top UFAs, the 29-year-old shot-blocking specialist is still waiting to land a contract.

Sportsnet's Mark Spector believes Russell and his agent overestimated this summer's free-agent market. He points out only 13 NHL teams have $4 million or more in salary-cap space, but some of those (Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning) still have notable restricted free agents to re-sign. Spector believes Russell will sign with an NHL club in the coming weeks, but he won't get what he might've received back in early July.

Russell's previous contract paid him $2.6-million per season. It was widely assumed he'd seek a lengthy deal worth over $4-million annually. Earlier this summer, there was speculation the Russell camp sought a long-term deal worth $6-million per season. Last month, his agent claimed as many as eight teams were interested in his client.

It's believed the Flames have some interest in bringing Russell back to Calgary, where he played nearly three seasons before being dealt at last season's trade deadline to the Dallas Stars. However, the Flames still have to re-sign left winger Johnny Gaudreau. How much he gets will determine if they have enough to sign Russell.

TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports the Flames were among four teams with interest in Russell. He speculates the blueliner could be signed by next week.

HABS' BACKUP CONDON COULD BE ON THE MOVE

Goaltender Mike Condon's days with the Montreal Canadiens could be drawing to a close. Sportsnet's Eric Engels reports two Western Conference clubs had some interest in the 26-year-old backup, suggesting a trade is a possibility.

Condon did a decent job filling in for a sidelined Carey Price last season. However, his future with the Canadiens was in doubt when they signed veteran backup Al Montoya in July. The Habs could demote him, but he probably wouldn't pass unclaimed through waivers.

If Condon is on the trade block, the San Jose Sharks could be one of those two Western clubs Engels referred to. They lack an experienced backup for starter Martin Jones.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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